Hazing drives universities to shut down ‘Greek Life’ on campus

Lauren Thomas | Staff Writer

Greek Life is rushing out the door of universities.

As spring pledges begin to collect their letters of recommendation and house doors open, the overhanging gloom of recent events cloud the recruitment season. Brotherhood and sisterhood are the values that have rooted Greek life for centuries. Recently major universities like Florida State University, Ohio State University, and Indiana University have shut down Greek life in response to the heightened violations.

Although universities are vague when it comes to the specific violations, the deaths of students have forced them to take action. Just last spring, a Penn State Beta Theta Pi pledge fell twice down a flight of stairs to his death after consuming what a forensic pathologist called a “life-threatening” amount of alcohol. Video surveillance of the night depicts other fraternity members carrying him, turning him over, pouring liquid on his face and slapping him. They also put a backpack on him to make sure he remained on his side and would not choke on his own vomit.

On November 3, 2017, a 20 year old Florida State pledge at Pi Kappa Pi was found unresponsive after attending a party the previous night. Just years before the pledge arrived on campus, Pi Kappa Pi had organized several years of an event dedicated to raising money for a charity called, “Push” that serves people with disabilities. Members of the fraternity also asked people to sign a pledge never to use the word “retarded”. The philanthropic acts and the detrimental hazing create a problem for many universities as to what action to take.

In response to the deaths, consequences have been suspensions of Greek life and most importantly, innovative programs designed to ensure the safety of students such as alcohol limitations.The majority of these programs urge students to report incidents of hazing and harassment.

Despite the bans and violations that headline the news, many sororities and fraternities are philanthropic and career-orientated. Co-ed business organizations, such as Miami’s Pi Sigma Epsilon, “provide its members with professional development, leadership opportunities, and support for for scholastic achievement” according to their site. According to their site, every year the organization donates over $10,000 and 200 hours to the Miami University, Oxford, and Cincinnati communities.       

At the University of Kentucky, a popular out-of-state choice for Mason students, 26% of students opt to participate in Greek Life. Behind the elegant mansions and cheerful recruitment videos, the Kentucky sororities have made a point to keep their philanthropic efforts on par. In an open letter from the Chapter President at UK’s Alpha Delta Pi, senior Camiran Moore said choosing Alpha Delta Pi felt like coming home and speaks highly of her sisters’ strong morals.

“I have a passion for serving others selflessly and giving back to the community,” Moore said. “I now have the pleasure of sharing this common goal with my sisters as we fundraise for the Alpha Delta Pi Foundation, Inc. and our local Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Bluegrass.”

While many are critical of the organizations, students like Maddy Recker are anxious to join the sisterhood in hopes of having a core group of friends and a network to accompany her marketing degree.

“It doesn’t really scare me because I feel like I see more fraternities getting in trouble than sororities,” Recker said. “I want to do business so in a sorority I will be able to meet a lot of people and begin to form my own network of people. Specifically with Marketing– there is event planning with sororities and advertising for fundraising events or even formals that will help me later on.”